Plants For A Future

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Plants For A Future

Postby George Collins » Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:15 am

Ten years as a London bus driver drove Ken Fern to look for an alternative way of life. After a period of grindingly hard work growing annual crops on a small plot in Surrey, he decided to investigate new ways of rearing plants which were not quite so labor intensive. Inspired by Robert Hart's ideas and the will to make their dreams a reality, Ken and his wife settled on a 28 acre field in Cornwall which is exposed to the full force of southwest winds blowing in from the Atlantic. Their immediate challenge was to plant one and half miles of hedges to check the devastating effects of wind damage and soil erosion. In addition, they established around 20,000 trees over 16 acres and slowly the balance of nature is being restored. Ken can now provide information on seven thousand useful plants and he's currently growing 1,500 species which could influence the human-plant relationship for generations to come.

Plants For A Future: A resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Plants For A Future (PFAF) is a charitable company, originally set up to support the work of Ken and Addy Fern on their experimental site in Cornwall, where they carried out research and provided information on edible and otherwise useful plants suitable for growing outdoors in a temperate climate. Over time they planted 1500 species of edible plants on 'The Field' in Cornwall, which was their base since 1989. Over ten years ago, Ken began compiling a database, which currently consists of approximately 7000 species of plants.
For more information on the work carried out by the Ferns, see: The History of Plants For A Future

Plants For A Future: 20 years on
The trustees of PFAF, in recognition of the work of the Ferns, and for information about what they achieved, commissioned a detailed mapping and ecological Survey of The Field. The Survey Report is available for anyone who is interested. We have also employed professional website developers to redesign the website and improve the content of the database, work on which is ongoing. We share in, and continue to support, the aims of the founders.

The main aims of the charity are researching and providing information on ecologically sustainable horticulture, promoting a high diversity, holistic and permacultural approach namely 'woodland gardening'. We aim to use a minimal input of resources and energy, create a harmonious eco-system and cause the least possible damage to the environment whilst achieving high productivity.

The Plants for a Future Concept
It is our belief that plants can provide people with the majority of their needs, in a way that cares for the planet's health. A wide range of plants can be grown to produce all our food needs and many other commodities, whilst also providing a diversity of habitats for our native flora and fauna.

There are over 20,000 species of edible plants in the world yet fewer than 20 species now provide 90% of our food. Large areas of land devoted to single crops increase dependence upon intervention of chemicals and intensive control methods with the added threat of chemical resistant insects and new diseases. The changing world climate greatly affecting cultivation indicates a greater diversity is needed.

If forest gardening is a path you have chosen to travel, you might be interested in learning about some of the potential perennial crops available to you. There is likely no better resource than Plants For A Future to help you determine what it is that you might like to include in your own forest garden.

Ken Fern is another of the very few giants upon whose shoulders we have the benefit of standing.
"Solve world hunger, tell no one." "The, the, the . . . The Grinch!"

"If you can't beat them, bite them."
George Collins
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